Lowry Family in Bowls

News, Our People

Back in 1973, the Taranaki daily newspaper printed a story and published a photo (above), about one of the teams which was making an impact at the Taranaki Fours. It stated- “ The Lowry family are the only father and sons team to have played together at the Taranaki Fours. This is their second year at the popular event. They said they haven’t had any arguments on the rink yet, but have been getting close to having one.”

That team comprised (from left) Des of the Rahotu club, Gil from Petone Central, Trevor and their father Eric, both Rahotu.

The Lowrys were a well-known sporting family and enjoyed playing together when possible. The family team broke up for a few years when Des became a serious trainer of gallopers, and he didn’t have the time to devote to the sport in which he had already won several area titles.

But when he returned to bowls the Lowrys reunited.

When Eric passed away several years ago, the youngest of the Lowry brothers, Alec, joined in. Then when Trevor died in 2014, his place was taken by his son Ian and it was this combination which performed superbly this year- over 45 years since the story in the newspaper.

Ian is in his late 40’s while none of his uncles Des, Gil and Alec will see 70 again but they reached the last 16, eventually losing to 4-time winner Dan Delaney, 28-27.

Bowlers in the Kapiti area are well aware of Gil Lowry. He’s fondly referred to as “LBG”- Last Bowl Gil, such is his penchant for delivering winning last bowls. His initial interest in bowls was sparked at a very young age because the family lived within spitting distance of the Rahotu Club where his father spent a lot of time. Gil recalls having a roll up there when he was 11 or 12 years old,but it wasn’t until he’d finished with rugby at the Eastbourne Club in Wellington that he began playing competitive bowls.

As a young man in his early thirties, he was often berated by other bowlers for taking the sport up at such a youthful age. This was a typical response in those days, but Gil quietened their comments by winning six Centre titles from the Central Petone Club.

His regular fours team, which won three Easter titles, was Vince Patel, Jim Madden and Alex Patton.

Incidentally, Gil joined Central Petone because his closest club, Wainuiomata, had a waiting list for members!

Gil Lowry has been a regular at the Taranaki Fours, and when the family couldn’t enter a team everyone knew that Gil would still be competitive, especially when he arrived with the likes of Brett O’Reilly, Peter Miller and Mark Noble in support.

Having played in this famous event multiple times, Gil has plenty of stories about the famous players he’s met on the greens. His favourite tale features one of the great characters of the sport, Nick Unkovich. The Lowrys were enjoying a tight tussle against Unkovich’s four which included the mighty Rowan Brassey and Danny O’Connor. The underdogs were holding on the last end and an upset seemed likely. With his final bowl, Unkovich muttered something like “ we’ll see what happens with this”. What happened was a couple of wicks and Unkovich got the shot and the victory.

Afterwards as the two teams chatted, Unkovich shouted whiskeys for his opponents and then a round of cigars!

As Gil Lowry says, “it’s those occasions when players-champions or hopefuls- socialise and mix, whether they’ve won or lost, that makes bowls a wonderful sport for young and old”.

And will the Lowrys front up with a team at next year’s Taranaki Fours- “I don’t see any reason why not!”

-John McBeth